Sinker’s Pitch: Take me out to the Oval

Feb 04, 2015

Members of the Toronto Blue Jays running a seminar at Richmond OvalPlay ball! What?! It’s January!

Spring however, was in the air last week at the Richmond Olympic Oval as 90 youth baseball players had the chance to learn from a few of the Toronto Blue Jays and instructors representing Baseball BC (including myself). BC Lower Mainland was their last stop as part of the Blue Jays Winter Tour with the skills clinic coordinated by the Blue Jays Academy.

Through a dynamic partnership, the Toronto Blue Jays and Baseball BC provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for children that they will remember for the rest of their lives. They were able to practice their throwing, fielding, pitching and batting skills with current team members Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison, Russell Martin and Aaron Sanchez. And to put the cherry on top, the Blue Jays brought their only Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar.

The event was fantastic as the children were smiling and enjoying being around professional athletes while there was a buzz in the air with everyone looking forward to the upcoming season. It was really great to see the community outreach by a professional team wanting to make a difference in the development of baseball across Canada. At one point in the evening there was a session that gave the young ball players a chance to ask questions to the players that attended. It was refreshing to hear the pros reinforce the importance of playing multiple sports growing up, all of them played three to four sports in addition to baseball. As the Coaching and Leadership Development Manager with viaSport BC and an advocate for the Canadian Sport for Life movement, I believe there is a strong need to ensure youth have opportunities to try a variety of sports and to not specialize at a young age.

Another question that came up was around making a lot of money as a professional athlete. Russell Martin handled the question perfectly and reinforced that young athletes should not chase the money, but rather find something they are passionate about and work extremely hard to reach their goals. The drive inside to excel needs to come from within. This advice is very powerful as it is transferable to everyone in any career path.

For the skills clinic I was assigned to be one of the assistant instructors with Roberto Alomar, which personally had a great significance beyond growing up in the early 90’s when he led the Blue Jays to back to back World Series championships. The summer after I graduated from the Brock University Sport Management program, I had the chance to work with Canada’s only member in Cooperstown, Fergie Jenkins. The big time highlight from that experience was being able to assist Fergie in a pitching clinic at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa.  I am truly fortunate to worked alongside the two Hall of Famers who have arguably had the greatest influence on baseball in Canada. Special thanks goes to Baseball BC (David Laing, Scott Mackenzie and Shawn Schaefer) for inviting me to attend!

Let the countdown to spring training begin.